Under the NFL's previous collective bargaining agreement, it grew increasingly difficult to discern between organized team activities and minicamp. The only difference was obligatory attendance at minicamp as opposed to the voluntary OTAs, and even then there were exceptions.
The offseason schedule now seems more organic under the new CBA. Minicamps have been scheduled as the final installment of offseason workouts, kind of a grand finale for the two months that most players have spent at the team facilities. Whereas minicamps were once haphazardly scheduled during the spring, the final day of minicamp will in most cases be the last day teams gather before reporting to training camp at the end of July.
To that end, I'm heading this evening to Green Bay for two days of minicamp in the shadow of Lambeau Field. I realize the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions will also open minicamp Tuesday, and I will do my best to pass along Bears coverage from ESPNChicago.com and also to piece together the key developments from Lions camp.
But in many ways, the Green Bay Packers have the most untold stories (at least on this blog) in the division this offseason. This will be a chance to even the score a bit.
I'll be back with you early Tuesday morning. For now, here are some key questions to consider for the Bears, Lions and Packers. As we did with rookie camps in April, I'll try to follow up at the end of the week to answer them and provide other insight.
Chicago Bears: What shape has the offense taken over the course of the offseason? The expected absence of tailback Matt Forte might make that question difficult to answer, but we should at least have a feel for how often quarterback Jay Cutler will be out of the pocket, the balance of downfield passing and the extent to which the tight end has been re-introduced to the offense. Also, are the Bears using first-round draft pick Shea McClellin in a way that suggests he'll be a significant factor, and perhaps a starter, in Week 1?
Detroit Lions: How comfortable should the Lions be with their situations at cornerback and safety? The departure of Eric Wright has left a competition between Aaron Berry, Jacob Lacey and perhaps rookie Dwight Bentley for a starting spot. Meanwhile, safety Amari Spievey was held out of workouts until last week because of a concussion he suffered in January. Also, do we have any better idea of where rookie first-round draft pick Riley Reiff will start off training camp? Will he be a backup to left tackle Jeff Backus, or will he compete with Gosder Cherilus at right tackle? Or both?
Green Bay Packers: How are the Packers handling their defensive line rotation with an influx of newcomers this spring? Does rookie Nick Perry look comfortable yet as a linebacker? Are reports accurate of backup quarterback Graham Harrell's significant improvement? Who, if anyone, looks like they could challenge veteran Charlie Peprah to start in Nick Collins' vacated safety spot? How comfortable should the Packers be with Marshall Newhouse at left tackle? Now you see why I'm eager to arrive in Green Bay. As the kids say, TTYL.